Another possible cougar sighting on the North Shore
Updated: October 24, 2012 10:05PM
Police in Winnetka are advising residents of a possible, though as yet unconfirmed, sighting of a cougar on the North Shore on Labor Day. It is at least the third such sighting of what may be a cougar in the Winnetka-Glencoe area this year.
About 8:30 p.m. Monday, the Winnetka Police Department received a report of a sighting of an animal, possibly a cougar, along the 1300 block of Willow Road, adjacent to the Village Public Works Facility, a release from police said.
Although unconfirmed, the detailed description provided of the animal has warranted additional investigation, police said.
A source with the Winnetka Police Department confirmed a family driving eastbound that night on Willow Road saw an animal that “didn’t fit the description of a fox or a coyote,” near the public works facility. The family turned around and again drove by the facility when the animal ran into the woods near the building.
The Winnetka Police Department has consulted with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Police also have called on the service of a wildlife expert in order to investigate and determine what type of animal may have been seen.
The two previous reported cougar sightings this year have been in Winnetka’s North Shore neighbor of Glencoe. Both sightings were of a large cat-type animal resembling a cougar near the Lake Michigan bluff/shoreline, according to the village of Glencoe.
The first sighting occurred on the morning of April 15 on the bluff below the Hazel Avenue overlook, a release from the village said. A resident on an early morning walk observed a large cat which had been lying down, but rose to its feet and disappeared into the heavy brush.
The second sighting occurred on the evening of July 26, when a Glencoe Public Safety employee witnessed a large cat cross the street at Dell and Lakeside and walk down toward the lake. The employee described the cat as resembling a cougar.
Glencoe Public Safety officers made efforts to investigate each sighting, but were unable to locate tracks or other hard evidence of the animal, the release said. When Glencoe officials discussed the sightings with the Cook County Forest Preserve District, they were informed that the Forest Preserve District had received two unconfirmed cougar sightings in the Skokie Lagoon area earlier in July. At the time, Glencoe reported that a wildlife biologist from the IDNR informed the village that they have had no confirmed sightings in the area.
IDNR has told police that there are no sustained populations of cougars in Illinois; however, young cougars have been known to pass through the Midwest after being pushed out of their original range in the Black Hills of South Dakota. These animals generally avoid populated areas, police said, and if any are in this area they may be looking for food. Deer is their main prey.
Deterrents for these animals include dogs, bright lights, music, and flashing white lights. Police want residents to be aware of these sightings and to call 911 immediately if they think they see a cougar in the area.